Lower serum activity of prolyl endopeptidase in anorexia and bulimia nervosa

M Maes, P Monteleone, R Bencivenga, F Goossens, M Maj, D van West, E Bosmans, S Scharpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to examine whether anorexia and bulimia nervosa are accompanied by lower serum activity of prolyl endopeptidase (PEP;EC; post-proline cleaving enzyme), a cytosolic endopeptidase which cleaves peptide bonds on the carboxyl side of proline in proteins of relatively small molecular mass. Substrates of PEP are, amongst others, neuroactive peptides, such as arginine vasopressin, luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, thyrotropin releasing hormone,alpha-melanocyte secreting hormone, substance P, oxytocin, bradykinin, neurotensin and angiotensin (Ag) I and II. Serum PEP activity was measured in the serum of 18 normal women, 21 anorexia nervosa and 21 bulimia nervosa women by means of a fluoremetric method. The Bulimic Investigatory Test, Edinburgh (BITE), the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) were scored. Serum PEP activity was significantly lower in patients with bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, irrespective of the restricted or binging subtype, than in normal controls. There were significant and inverse correlations between serum PEP activity and the HDRS and BITE. In anorectic patients, but not in normal or bulimic patients, there was a significant correlation between serum PEP and body mass index. In bulimic patients, but not in normal or anorectic patients, there was a significant correlation between serum PEP and duration of illness. It is concluded that lowered serum PEP activity takes part in the pathophysiology of anorexia and bulimia nervosa. It is hypothesized that a combined dysregulation of PEP and neuroactive peptides, which are substrates of PEP, could be an integral component of eating disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001


  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Bulimia
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neuropeptides
  • Regression Analysis
  • Seasons
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Lower serum activity of prolyl endopeptidase in anorexia and bulimia nervosa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this